Olympic style weight lifting is a passion I discovered later in my adult life. As a child I was always active and an athlete. With competitive gymnastics for 14 years and high school cheer, I still always hit the gym with my Dad every Sunday and played football with my three brothers and friends. Exercise was not an option, it was part of my every day life. Since then, I’ve dabbled in it all. But then, “why weight-lifting?”
I’ve done the Spin, I’ve done the Body Pump, I’ve trained for half marathons, I’ve done Crossfit. Weight-lifting is different. It requires focus, intensity, dedication, recovery. It is almost as much mental training as it is physical. In spin class, Body Pump, Boot Camp, you listen for the cues from the instructor. You push when they say “push,” you back off when they say “back off.” You put in your hour, you go home. Results are somewhat measurable and minor goals can be set.
Weightlifting is very different.
With weightlifting, it is you and the barbell. You are in a sport where you must lift the weight. You need to take that bar from a dead stop and put it overheard. This is either done in one smooth movement from ground to overhead or with a stop at the shoulders (with “the snatch” or “the clean and jerk” in the latter example). How I perform this is different from my husband, is different from my coach, different from my peers. You need to learn how to use your body proportions and your own personal technique to deliver the right result. It is highly individualized although the movements have been in existence for years.
When you have strictly two movements to focus on improving, each with several moving parts, you have to break each one down and focus on just one part at a time. People ask how someone can work two lifts all the time. In reality, I am rarely working just the two lifts. I could be working pulls for one, overhead for another, footwork, working on drills to make me faster, focusing on bar path, turn over, landing position, squat strength…the list goes on. When you work these parts individually and then put them back together the results can be seen in several ways from a faster, more fluid lift, an increase in consistency, an increase in overall weight lifted, or the ability to perform more repetitions at a given weight, one that was considered your one rep maximum months prior. It is incredibly rewarding to take something so technical and make it look easy to the passerby.
When you head to the gym to work on your lifts you need to leave life at the door. You need to channel your focus or you just go through the motions. This makes weightlifting therapeutic. Additionally, learning to channel your focus, and energy, and learning to push through when it feels like nothing is moving “right,” can be applied elsewhere in life. Weightlifters are some of the strongest (mentally and physically) people I know. They also have strong personal relationships. You can bond with others while lifting your weights, have a friendly competition going with your peers over who can make progress quickest, be enthusiastic for others when they see improvement even if you personally have not of late, but most importantly, you can ALWAYS see some form improvement, even into your old age. Once you discover a passion for this journey, the results don’t really even matter any more because every day you are thankful you have the ability to practice this sport. Now, don’t you want to give it a try?